Holistic -what does it mean? Can you put it in a bag, or a bottle?
Robert Mason D.V.M.
Pet owners want to do what is best for their best friends. Unfortunately pet product and pet food manufacturers know that certain words have great consumer appeal and know how to use (abuse) them to mislead us into buying or paying more for their products. The term "HOLISTIC" is widely used to convey a certain mystic quality to products and services when in reality it is a word that has no legal definition, and in most cases, is used completely out of context from it's formal definition.
Holism is a loosely defined philosophy that, when applied to people or animals, considers the approach to health to include factors affecting mind, body and spirit. It is an approach that looks at all factors affecting health, not just an isolated disease state. Applied to animals it would consider genetics, home and family dynamics, diet (including treats, chews and table food), exercise, training, interactions with other animals.
What holistic is NOT, is an ingredient. Holistic cannot be put in a bag or a bottle! While many brands of dog foods and some supplements are marketed as "holistic", this is a gross misrepresentation of the term. It is exploitation of consumer misinformation at it's worst. Just because a pet food company adds some blueberry powder to a bag of food it does not somehow become magically holistic. Most pet food companies that market the term "holistic" actually have little or no research put into their pet foods, nor do they do feeding trials to prove their quality. Until a company figures out how to put things like exercise, fresh air, unconditional love and behavioral training in a bag, there will never be a "holistic" dog food or supplement.
In a future blog I will address the misconceptions about "holistic" veterinary medicine, which is also a mis-used term. Dr. Bob Mason